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'People Are Still Dying On The Streets' In Mexico's Drug War

A vendor shows a t-shirt with the face of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán for sale in Mexico City on July 20, 2015.
AFP/Getty Images
A vendor shows a t-shirt with the face of Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán for sale in Mexico City on July 20, 2015.

Mexico's president was jubilant over the recapture of Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán, the world's most wanted drug lord. President Enrique Peña Nieto broke the news when he tweeted, "Mission accomplished: we got him," on January 8.

"El Chapo" humiliated the government when he escaped from a Mexican prison last summer through an elaborate, mile-long tunnel. It was the second time the drug kingpin escaped from a Mexican prison.

The situation became more complicated still when Rolling Stone revealed that actor Sean Penn had secretly met with "El Chapo" in the Mexican jungle in October.

But much of the news about "El Chapo" has left ordinary Mexicans out of the picture. NPR's Scott Simon spoke with Genaro Lozano, a columnist in Mexico City and political science professor at Universidad Iberoamericana, about what Mexican citizens are saying about "El Chapo's" arrest and ongoing drug violence.

Interview Highlights

On Mexican politics

This is politically a big victory for President Enrique Peña Nieto, and of course if President Enrique Peña Nieto's going to be able to change the dynamic of his low popularity in the following weeks.

On what it means for ongoing drug-related violence

Everybody knows that the fact that "El Chapo" has been recaptured, it doesn't really change anything in the formula. People are still dying on the streets because of this war on drugs that President Calderón started in 2006. Mayors are being killed, candidates running for office are also being kidnapped or disappearing. Reporters and journalists are living in the country that it's one of the most dangerous in the world for journalists.

On Sean Penn's Rolling Stone article

The article is getting a lot of attention, it got a lot of attention the day it was out. But also people started discussing the poor quality of it. And it became at least a conversation on social media about how Sean Penn was actually saying more about himself and his ego rather than telling us a different perspective or a different point of view for "El Chapo."

On ideas about "El Chapo" as a folk hero

I don't think that in Mexico we consider "El Chapo" a hero. Not as Pablo Escobar was considered a hero in Colombia back in the '80s. But I don't think that people believe that "El Chapo" is a hero. People know that he's a criminal, that he's committed murders, that he was one of the most wanted men in the world.

Click the link above to hear the full interview.

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